If you knew you were going to live to 100, what would you do differently today?
In my last blog post, I introduced this question and provided some reflections from the 2018 AARP Disrupt Aging: The Implications of Living 100 Forum. As promised, this week I’m going to share tips from some of the experts who spoke about changing the way we earn and learn.
Changing the Way We Earn
“The only time I hear people talk about God and money is when they say ‘God, I wish I had more money’,” said Suze Orman, The World’s Personal Finance Expert.
According to Employee Benefit Research Institute 2016 stats, 41% of American households headed by people 55-64 have no retirement assets.
Maybe that’s why Suze hit hard on the importance of saving for old age: “At 25, if you put away $100 a month until 65, you can have $1 million at 65. If you start at 35 versus 25, you will net only $300,000 at 65.” At the same time she was adamant about paying down debt, especially credit card debt which has high interest rates.
“Money alone will never make you happy. But lack of money will make you miserable,” said Suze. Seeing her parents struggle financially made her want to become monetarily successful and help others become fiscally fit too. After working really hard and making lots of money, she retired two years ago at 65 and moved to a private island in the Bahamas. Sounds pretty successful to me?
“These shoes are the same shoes I’ve been wearing for 20 years. Same jacket. Same earrings. I only have one pair of earrings,” said Suze while discussing ‘needs’ versus ‘wants.’
Ooh, Suze, I have so many pairs of earrings. I likely have too many pairs. You’re right, I don’t need any more earrings. Now as for shoes, the latest AARP Magazine just said that you are allowed to buy shoes during your 60s because your feet flatten and get bigger! I just bought Vionic shoes because they have high arches.
Besides curbing spending, Suze recommended being wise about managing risk, especially if you know you might live to 100. “Time is the most important ingredient in saving. The mistake you make is to get out of the market. Invest in good quality stocks, S&P 500 Index Funds in the USA, ETFs, Mutual Funds and one in Europe or overseas.” Note: Of course you should do what is best for your circumstances working with a financial advisor.
Suze didn’t stay in retirement long. She’s back at it again with a Woman & Money podcast.
Changing the Way We Learn
“How many lives are you? Which one is better – your first career self, your second career self, your parent or grandparent self?” asked Dave Evans, Co-Founder, Stanford Life Design Lab and Co-Author, Designing Your Life. “Imagine you can have as many of yourselves that you like. There’s more aliveness in all of us than we get to live, it’s just dysfunctional beliefs are getting in the way.” said Dave.
Dave described how people get stuck because of different dysfunctional beliefs such as discovering their passion. Sometimes people haven’t discovered their passion or have so many passions. (Which are you? I’m the later.)
Dave introduced the concept of design thinking. “Get curious. Talk to people. Try some stuff. Share what you learn,” said Dave. It was clear that there was no one way to learn a new skill.
“Do you need a degree?” asked Dave. “It depends on why you want to learn something.” If it’s about changing careers, Dave suggested looking backwards from the future to the present and examining your expertise, your network and whether or not you need a certificate or degree to make a pivot into a new position.
The good news is that Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience (2013) reports that “Even as we age, the brain maintains its ability to change and rewire itself as we learn new things.”
Changing the Way We Connect
I wanted to hug Cheryl Strayed, author of WILD and Co-host of Dear Sugar Radio podcast. Having read WILD and heard Cheryl speak before, she has a special way of connecting with the audience and drawing you in without any slides — likely why she was there to make the case for a new way of connecting and the need for interpersonal relationships.
“The most powerful thing I say as Dear Sugar is you’re not alone. In your deepest, darkest suffering, you’re not alone,” said Cheryl. Cheryl can say this because as Dear Sugar, she receives thousands of letters from people and hears similar stories.
“Literature shows us that this is true. If I locked the doors and everyone shared a heart break, a triumph, or a loss, you would feel a deep connection to the people around you,” said Cheryl. She gave an example from end of The Wizard of Oz: “Glinda, the good witch, tells Dorothy to just click her shoes together and she’ll get home. She always had that power. She just had to go through all the journey to believe it.”
Cheryl challenged us to harness the power when we are vulnerable and begin to connect. “You always have to exercise the things that make you emotionally well. There’s never a better moment than now,” said Cheryl.
But how do you do that? Here’s what Cheryl advised:
♥ Revise the narrative of what you think is okay to express emotionally. Try to reveal your truest self. Rewrite the stories that don’t serve you in emotional well-being. Ask yourself – what do I believe?
♥ Be brave enough to show who you really are. Being vulnerable is scary because people can reject us. Cheryl believes more will connect than reject. Tell a story that you’ve never told. “Every time I’ve taken a risk of emotional vulnerability or intimacy it changes relationships,” said Cheryl.
♥ Cultivate empathy. Listen with openness and without judgement — to a colleague, friend, family member, stranger. You end up having more empathy for yourself when you have empathy for others.
In closing, Cheryl encouraged participants to “Speak a sentence to someone you haven’t before. Tell a story you haven’t shared. Write an email to someone you’ve been meaning to connect with. It’s a way to grow closer. All of those ways are ways of connecting to live to 100.”
Don’t you love Cheryl Strayed? I knew you would!
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